How To Prepare For Successful Sales Calls


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Preparation for sales calls

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How To Prepare For Successful Sales Calls

  1. 1. 398 Fifth Street, San Francisco, CA 94105 hello@hotprospect.comSpeaker 1: Hi. This is Joe Fahrner. I am the CEO and co-founder of I am here with Kelly Huffman who is the VP of sales at How are you doing Kelly?Speaker 2: I am doing well. Hello everybody.Speaker 1: Excellent. Ah, so, today, um, this is our third podcast. We, are, um, focusing on, ah, sort of preparation for sales calls. So, the last couple of podcasts we talked about regeneration using social media and really, how to, um, ah, analyze LinkedIn profile. Now we’re gonna move on, ah, to next step of the phase. Once you’ve figured out, ah, ya know, prospective company, you’ve found a contact, maybe you’ve already reached out to them and setup a time to talk. Um, maybe you haven’t yet; we can talk about that a little bit too. Ah, what happens? What’s the preparation like for that call? And actually, that’s maybe a good starting point Kelly. One of the big like pit, pitfalls I’ve found in my experience is actually getting the call scheduled. So you send out ah, you send out an intro email, you get a response that seems on the hook and then you have to actually manipulate the, traverse the, the ah, actually scheduling. Right? And that can become like a whole big rats next because if they “sure give us some times”, then you give them some times, then you get into this multi-email threat. Are there any techniques you’ve used in your own work of trying to figure out how to expedite that price in process to actually get the call scheduled in the first place?Speaker 2: Ya know, that’s a huge challenge and you’re absolute right and I think there’s even some tools out there that make that a little bit easier. But, quite frankly I will typically weight the value, my own perceived value…Speaker 1: Mm-hm.Speaker 2: of this particular call, um, and try to literally open up entire days…Speaker 1: Right.Speaker 2: or afternoons or, or what have you, and knowing that there might a conflict, but I make that, you make the judgment call that is this conflict that I can move around without damaging whatever that other meeting might be.Speaker 1: Right.
  2. 2. 398 Fifth Street, San Francisco, CA 94105 hello@hotprospect.comSpeaker 2: So, literally, ya know, if, if this is a Tier 1, ya know, prime Grade A prospect that you’re going after, well, open up your calendar and let them pick and choose.Speaker 1: Absolutely.Speaker 2: So, I find that, that helps, that helps a lot, and, and again, like I said, to us, a few tools now that, that you can use there, but, that’s my biggest tip is to be incredibly flexible without coming across as being completely wide open…Speaker 1: Right.Speaker 2: meaning you do anything or you’re desperate.Speaker 1: Right. Right. I think, it does, it does, I think you’re exactly right. It’s like sort of basic schedule management and trying to figure out of all the things on your plate what can you do to, to ah, shift things around to make sure if it’s a call you really make happen sooner rather than later then its happening. Yeah, I think tumble, tumble.mes is one of the, one of the companies that you’re probably talking about that does, allows you to do scheduling, or even Google Calendar I think supports, ah, requesting, ah, scheduled times, you, you can open up your calendar and let people book slots, these type of things.Speaker 2: That’s right, and even Boomerang has just launched an app that…Speaker 1: Oh, cool.Speaker 2: allows you to, it actually extracts the dates and times being discussed within the body of the email…Speaker 1: Oh, awesome.Speaker 2: and turns them all into potential calendar, calendar events showing you the conflicts that you have.Speaker 1: Yeah, that’s cool.Speaker 2: Yeah, cool.
  3. 3. 398 Fifth Street, San Francisco, CA 94105 hello@hotprospect.comSpeaker 1: Yeah, like, like the main thing I’ve found is what you don’t want to get into is like, ya know, the multi-mail exchange of ah, well why don’t you tell me some times, no why don’t you tell me some times, why don’t you tell me some times. This literally, ya know, if, if you feel like if there is not some big directive on the other side with specific times, then I’ll just throw out a couple times and go from there. So…Speaker 2: Yep.Speaker 1: its mainly, I mean, do what, do wha, I think I find, ya know, the best is just what seems situationally correct. It sounds like you’re talking about the same thing Kelly. Mainly, it’s just, ah, something to be aware of is that potential hazard where you can really lose, literally days or weeks of time just messing around with scheduling, so try to get through that process as quick as possible. So, okay. Now you get the call scheduled. Um, so, ah, ya know, preparation for a call is obviously really important. One of the things I always try to make, ah, happens, is that I’ve had enough time to prep for the call and research so that like, my goal is to always make sure, that, first, I know more about the person on the other end of the line than they know about me. It’s not so much that I want them to know, not know much about me; it’s that I want to make sure that I’m over prepared and ah, understand, most importantly, how to position things, what contacts to give, give the conversation. Um, so, it might be good to talk a little bit about, ya know, ah, some of the tools or steps that we take in preparing for a call. Um, we talked about previous podcast LinkedIn, obviously as being an invaluable tool, so spending time on LinkedIn obviously and looking at, um, ya know, the kind of information that people put out on their LinkedIn profile is pretty key. Anything specifically on LinkedIn that you’ve gotten in call preparation Kelly?Speaker 2: Ah, yeah, I specifically like to just look again at the particular contacts rollin’ in the company and…Speaker 1: Yep.Speaker 2: get a, get a really good handle on their tenure and who their linked to and do we have any commonalities that we, that may be worth bringing up, ya know, do we share some people, again, do we share some people in common, do we share some, some kind of history in common, or are there things within their past that they’ve indicated what schools they went to, if they were members of organizations, anything like that, that
  4. 4. 398 Fifth Street, San Francisco, CA 94105 we can, ya know, that, that you can use as sign to warm up the conversation, and not necessarily to, to name drop these things just because you found them, but to have them in your back pocket as something to use.Speaker 1: Yeah. I mean, like I’ll give you an example. I went to school in San Diego; my wife’s family is from San Diego. I find on average, like 1 out of 20 or 1 out of 30 people I speak to on the phone in some context has some connection to San Diego. And when that happens, ah, it’s great because…Speaker 2: (laugh)Speaker 1: you basically have, ya know, a couple-minute side conversation about San Diego, right, or wherever that, it may be a fraternity, it may be where you went to school, it may be location, it may be shared knowledge of a sports team, or, ya know, whatever it is. But any of that common ground, you can, you can at least have in your back pocket if it comes up and these types of things.Speaker 2: Yeah, I mean, I’d add to that quite often. You find that, when you’re in a particular industry for any extended period of time and you’re selling some solution, you, you, the, the prospects that you’re selling the solution to are also going to be somehow ancillary to the industry you’re in.Speaker 1: Right.Speaker 2: So there is, the, more often than not there is some kind of commonality with companies you’ve all worked at before.Speaker 1: Yep.Speaker 2: Called on before.Speaker 1: Yep, shared, shared relationships and all that type of stuff. The other, um, the other big thing that I think is important, ah, moving on from LinkedIn, is making sure you’ve spent at least some minimum amount of time on their website and like for example, if it’s a SAS company that you’ve, ya know, tried out their free trial or something like that. There is really two reasons for that. One, is you want to make sure you have full context what their all about, what their company does. But the other
  5. 5. 398 Fifth Street, San Francisco, CA 94105 thing is, if you’ve only got 15, 20, 30 minutes of someone’s time on the phone, you really want that time to be spent, ya know, learning about, um, their needs, and how your product or service can help solve their problems versus it being an exercise in them educating you about their company, right at these minute details, so make sure you spend time checking things out. Um, when you’re on the site, it’s a good idea to, like I say, definitely, try singing up for the free trial, if its, if the, if it’s a product with a free trial on it so you can get a good understanding of kind of how they interact with customers. Um, check out, ya know, the press section. Right? What are the press releases or the press mentions that, they’re, they’re highlighting in their site. Um, definitely, that puts you in a position, where you want to make sure, that you’re looking at, ya know, the company’s view of themselves, and so, its maybe not going to be totally objective, but it’s good to give you an idea of the types of things that are important to them. Um, looking at the section of the site that’s devoted to the team. Um, ya know, the, ah, the executives and these types of things or even the investors that they work with is, is interesting a lot of times in helping you get context around the company. Particularly if the individual you’re going to be talking to has a bio on the site, that’s, you, pretty useful to get idea of, kind of again, almost liked the LinkedIn example more context about them. Um, are there any other areas in the site you like to look at or just general, kind of navigational stuff you do?Speaker 2: No, ah, I’ve think you’ve touched on those pieces and I think that, the, the one thing to add here is context that what you’re also trying to figure out is, how, how do you position your product or service against what they do. You might find that, ya know, your product only does one thing, but it’s all in the delivery of how you’re gonna speak to that part, or you speaking to the pain points of the particular nitch that the company might be in and, and your position it can, can be everything in how you discuss that. So, just having that basic understanding of, of what it is that they do…Speaker 1: Mm-hm.Speaker 2: is absolutely key. If you’re the kind of, um, if you have the kind of product or service that you want to do the same basic pitch over and over and over again, that’s, that’s not only not that effective and being able to tailor it at something that’s really good even it actually means nothing in terms of what the actual product still does.
  6. 6. 398 Fifth Street, San Francisco, CA 94105 hello@hotprospect.comSpeaker 1: Yep. Another, another interesting, um, site tip, that, that we’ve automated in our own product at HotProspect, but, ah, but you can do by hand yourself is, ah, if you go to the site and you do a view source of the site itself. Particularly if you, um, have, if there’s competitive or complimentary products that, ah, that you’re prospect may be using, you can view source and a lot of times you can just search for the names of products and see the, see the job descript, or um, or other code snippets that are on the website itself, um that show you that they’re using that product or service. So, for example, we’ve found that customers that are great for our product are typically using a CRM system like Salesforce and they’re probably using Salesforce web to lead and, ah, in a marketing automation system like Marketo or HubSpot. A lot of times because these products are based off of tracking a job descript, you can view source on the page, see the Marketo job descript or the Salesforce web delete code or the Google analytics code, and get some indication of the types of products and services they are already using on their site. That’s not gonna be relevant for everybody, but in a case where you’ve got part of your, um, prospect profile that, ah, that maps back to some software solution, a lot of times you can sniff things out there. Again, we automate that in our product, but ah, but you can do it by hand yourself. Ah, another kind of vertical specific bit of, ah, um, bit of research you can do is around ad spend. That’s actually a good one for a bunch of reasons. Ah, for example, um, you can use a service like SpyFu or, ah, SEMRush, there’s a handful of these that allow you to search, ah, based off of key words or URL, and get ad spend for a company, estimated ad spend on Google search products, um, that’s, that’s actually really valuable. Another tool, ah, um, actually a partner of ours within the HotProspect product is mickshrink. They do something similar where you can search based off of your own and, um, get an idea of the type of distribution that a company has, ah, ah, from advertising perspective. Um, the ah, and of course, things like or QuadCast give you a great idea of the volume of traffic and again based off of vertical, its gonna depend on, um, the, the importance of looking at something like traffic, is, web traffic, is gonna depend on the vertical, but ah, but a lot of times it just gives you an idea of scale of the business which is, which is useful. Um, any other kind of like vertical solutions or any other places you like to search to look for information about a company?Speaker 2: Ya know, I guess it depends entirely on what you’re selling, but I think more, more now than ever, the, there’s a social footprint is also really important.
  7. 7. 398 Fifth Street, San Francisco, CA 94105 hello@hotprospect.comSpeaker 1: Absolutely.Speaker 2: Even if you’re not necessarily selling a social product to a social company, I think just having a sense of what their Facebook presence looks like in terms of fan counts, overall just…Speaker 1: Mm-hm.Speaker 2: ya know Twitter, ya know you don’t have to have a deep dive in that, but I think it can tell you a lot about what’s going on and how they view their community and…Speaker 1: Right.Speaker 2: what they’re up to. And I think that, Joe touched on this earlier, you talked about press releases. It’s equally important to look at what news is out there that wasn’t on their website just to get the, the theoretically non-biased view and maybe find some insight into that as well.Speaker 1: Yep, yeah, and by doing those basic searches like Twitter is great because, it’s real easy, ah, ya know to find both, both, we’ll use something like Google News to look at existing, existing news content, but then like Twitter is great for searching for the company name or the product names, those types of things because you can also get a gen, not only see, the, the level or the scale of, of footprint they have on a platform like Twitter which is interesting to look at. Um, but also just what’s the kind of sentiment that you’re seeing. Who are the types of people that are talking about their product, and these types of things? Um, and then in general, like a lot of these things, you, ya know, Kelly your point about social, which is kind of interesting. I think a lot of companies look at things like Twitter and Facebook and they say, “This doesnt really matter to me because I’m not selling a social product.” But, increasingly it feels like Twitter and Facebook, in particular, and as well as LinkedIn, are platforms where, it almost is like a level of sophis, a signal of level of sophistication around the company, if there’s even a presence there, even if it’s a small presence. Um, in certain verticals obviously having a big presence on those platforms is really important and if they don’t have that then it probably is a major black mark against them, but, but in general, I think, if I look at the weeds we’ve processed for our customers, um, you just increasingly see, ah, more and more of a footprint on those platforms and that, that tends to be a pretty good indicator of the value as well. Um, so, these are all, ya know, we’ve
  8. 8. 398 Fifth Street, San Francisco, CA 94105 talked about a bunch of different places to find information, ah, ya know, again, like I think it’s probably worth spending a little bit of time talking about what do you actually do with this information. Right? So, you’ve gone through and you’ve done all these searches, you checked out the website, you checked out the social presence, ya know, you’ve gone to Compete and QuadCast and Mixedrank and you’ve aggravated all this data together, um, really, the goal here, as we touched on earlier, isn’t necessarily to be a know-it-all when you get on the call, or be presumptive. What you want to do is have a nice little, kind of basis of information, ah, in your brain so that, ya know, as the conversation flows, you have a better idea of the context of this individual where things are coming from. Um, one of the, like, total, ah, no-no’s in this type of preparation and I’ve fallen, um, prey to this in the past, is you spend some time, ah, preparing, pulling together all this information and you think you have all the answers, so you start making sort of presumptive statements and then you’re wrong. Right? (Laugh) And then, and then that really turns off the future prospect, or they have to spend time correcting you, whatever it is. So, the, the, you kind of want to temper how you expose this information versus just sort of having it, ah, in your back pocket for, for when, when the opportunity presents itself. Um, any other tips on your end, Kelly, around of kind of, ya know, like one question I have for you is like, what do you think is the right amount of time to be spending on aggregating information like this? We’re talking about a lot of different sources. You could spend hours digging into this stuff just for a single call. Obviously, that’s not prudent.Speaker 2: Right. (Laugh)Speaker 1: But, ah, what do you think is the right amount of time to be spend preparing?Speaker 2: Ya know, I really think it depends on the complexity of what, what you, what you’re selling, and maybe the, the challenge in finding readily available information. I, ya know, I, I don’t’ have a specific time. What I will say is that, and this may seem really, really obvious to everybody, but, um, it’s still worth mentioning. I, I basically cannot have a call without a, ah, screen in front of me anymore…Speaker 1: Yeah.Speaker 2: so, part of my, party of my exercises isn’t always necessarily having read every single thing because actually you, you won’t necessarily retain it all.
  9. 9. 398 Fifth Street, San Francisco, CA 94105 hello@hotprospect.comSpeaker 1: Mm-hm.Speaker 2: And it could get away from you thinking about your own product and how you’re gonna position that. Um, so, ya know, unfortunately, there are tools out there, or, it be, it’s beginning to see some tools out there, but, in, in the short-term, you just have to have lots of windows open and have…Speaker 1: Yep.Speaker 2: their page up, their LinkedIn page, their homepage, and everything else. And actually, I find that as we’re talking, that, wherever the conversation leads, you need to go back and look at those things in real-time. It happens to me almost every time. Probably because I don’t retain as much as I should, but still, it’s just nice being able to have those reference points.Speaker 1: Yeah, I feel like increasingly when you’re talking to someone, a prospect on the phone, it’s like, one of the first questions that always comes up is, they’ll ask, “Are you in front of a browser?” Because they want to show you something, give you a demo, or show something off, so that, that’s another reason just to have that right in front of you so, ah, because especially, like for example in our office, it’s not uncommon, we all sit in a main area, to duck out into a conference room, um, to take a call or something like that, so just making sure you have your laptop in front of you, you, your computer in front of you, with all the screens open and ready to kind of react to stuff on the fly, as, as, as the conversations flows. That’s a great point. Um, well cool. I think, ya know, hopefully, um, we’ve identified some parts of the process or some tools that may be useful. Um, we’d love to hear, um, in the comments if, um, if there’s any specific tools or use cases for these tools that we haven’t touched on. Um, the main key thing to think about is like, ya know, you want to make sure that you’re not going into one of these calls without some basis, ah, context and information, um, to kind of make the pitch as relevant as possible to the individual that you, that you’re talking to. So, ah, so hopefully this is helpful. Ah, we appreciate you’re sticking with us, and, ah, you can follow Kelly @KelHuffman on Twitter. I’m @JoeF and you can follow HotProspect @HotPros on Twitter. We’d love to connect with you, and um, we’re glad to answer any questions you have there in the comments. Thanks again, and um, we’ll talk to you soon.
  10. 10. 398 Fifth Street, San Francisco, CA 94105 hello@hotprospect.comSpeaker 2: Bye-bye.[End of Audio]Duration: 17 minutes